Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fried Chicken & Birthday Cake Pops

Inspired by watching the movie "The Help", I decided to try an old school fried chicken recipe.  I haven't completely thrown all nutrition out the window so I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  But the rest is pretty unhealthy. ;)
I started by dipping the breasts in an egg coating.
I kind of just went on my own as far as the breading.  I crushed up a bunch of saltines & Ritz crackers, added some Lawry's and other seasonings and mixed it all up in a brown paper bag.  I dropped each piece of chicken into the bag and shook it up.

I finished by frying them in a little bit of good old-fashioned Crisco till crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  They actually turned out a little on the salty side for my tastes but everyone ate it and said it was good.
We actually had this last Wednesday for dinner when two of Ewan's friends ate over.  All three 4-year-olds tried it! And yeah, I cheated on the sides. ;)

For dessert, peppermint Rice Krispie treats.  I just used peppermint marshmallows and followed the usual recipe.

It was fun to let the boys decorate them with whatever sprinkles they wanted.

Friday is Ewan's 5th birthday...excuse me while I cry/breathe into a paper bag/beam with pride/cry again.  So since he doesn't have school on Fridays and two of his classmates have birthdays on Thursday and Monday, tomorrow is Ewan's day to be the line leader and bring treats.  I told him I'd make whatever he wanted or even buy cupcakes from Sam's Club (love their non-dairy whipped frosting) and what did he choose?  Cake pops. *sigh* The most time-consuming baked good I know how to make.  Oh well, he's totally worth it!

Ironically, we've been trying to limit sugars, carbs and a number of dyes in an effort to improve Ewan's behavior and attention span so of course he chose red candy coating.  Red's his favorite color and it's his birthday. I'm going to let it slide, this time.  Here they are!  The sprinkled one if for the birthday boy! :)

I'll try to update more often especially as the real holiday baking begins, next week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holy moley I'm a slacker!

Sorry friends, it's been a madhouse around here.  I will do my best to update soon.  Tonight I'm making meatloaf and mashed potatoes so hopefully I'll get some good pics and a nice recipe up here for you.

In the mean time, since it's cyber Monday, check out ebates to earn some cash back as you shop online!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and you're getting excited for the upcoming holiday season!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween Chili

Like many, we make chili on Halloween.  It's a nice warm meal when we return home from trick-or-treating and because we're a high protein family, we love chili anyway!  This time, though, I decided to try using beef tips instead of ground beef.  We actually purchased a huge pack of beef tips from Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago.  I split it in half and froze half of it.  The first half I used for beef stew but forgot to take pictures, sorry. 

So for the chili I combined the beef, three cans of dark kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of pumpkin (NOT pie filling, just straight up pumpkin), some diced peppers and a chili seasoning packet (I'm either out of chili powder or it's buried so far into my cabinet that I can't find it) into the slow cooker. Oh and few shakes of paprika. It was delicious and I'm taking the leftovers to church tonight hopefully someone will use it.  I can't stand to throw it out.

Also, thanks for the patience as I recovered from my surgery.  It has been three weeks today and I'm feeling much better.  Soon, look for photos of Ginger Rogers, my new kitchen friend.  I was able to upgrade my Kitchen Aid mixer and now it matches our Keurig.  Yay!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Turkey Dinner and Cake Pops!

If you don't already know this about me, now you do: I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS!!! And because I love the holidays I'll make turkey dinner a few random times throughout the year.  Today was one of those days.  Next Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving so I guess I could use that as an excuse but mostly the turkey was on sale and I love stuffing so...yeah. ;)

The turkey I prepared today was about 13 1/2 lbs so I roasted it at 325 degrees for about 4 hours.  I am old school.  I still stuff my turkey with stuffing...I mean, that's why it's called stuffing right?  I'll give you my stuffing recipe in a minute.  Back to the turkey.  I cleaned it all out and then poured about half a can of chicken broth over the bird.  I then rubbed a bit of melted butter, sage and Lawry's seasoning salt under the skin then poured the rest over the turkey. I did not do a foil tent at all with this turkey though sometimes I do.  It turned out fine without it.

For the stuffing I tried a few new ingredients today to test them out on my immediate family before Thanksgiving next month.  I used 4 hot dog buns, 4 hamburger buns (both on clearance at Kroger) and a loaf of wheat bread.  I ripped it all up and then added a LOT of sage, some Lawry's, one egg, some chicken broth and a half stick of melted butter.  I told you we splurge on butter, right? ;)  This time I added a handful of original Craisins, a diced talk of celery and shredded half a carrot into it. Smashed it all together by hand (the fun part) then stuffed it in the turkey.  It turned out great!  The cranberries gave it a little sweet taste.  Mmm.  Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

I also made (from scratch) mashed potatoes.  I didn't take a picture of them, though because mashed potatoes all look the same whether you make them from scratch or a box of flakes, amirite?  However, I did make them from scratch, I promise.  I peeled and cubed 5 or 6 potatoes, boiled them and strained them.  I then dumped them in the bowl from my Kitchen Aid mixer (Betty White) and added some milk and, you guessed it, butter.  I let Betty do the bulk of the work and she put a hurtin' on those taters!  They were awesome and I love that I didn't have to smash them.  I love Betty White!

I did a pan of Pillsbury crescent rolls (gosh we love those little loaves of Heaven) and a bag of frozen corn and jar of gravy.  See, here's the thing about gravy.  Some people say it couldn't be easier to make gravy.  I say it couldn't be easier for me to mess up.  I have yet to make a good gravy from scratch so whatever is on sale will not only do, but will make my family a lot happier.

Ok, about cake pops.  They are delicious.  They are a hit.  Everyone loves a cake pop.  They're a great alternative to a whole piece (or four) of cake.  However, they are time consuming little buggars!  Now you can use whatever flavor(s) of cake, frosting, candy coating and toppings you want.  Experiment!  It makes it really fun!  And this is one baking project Ewan LOVES to help with and he begs me to roll the balls and stab the little sticks in them.  I'm thinking of adding these to my baked goods gift baskets for the holidays.  So anyway, here is how I made this particular batch.

I started by making a Devil's Food cake and a Funfetti cake from the box.  I let those cool on a wire rack for half an hour or so.  I then broke up the cake (one at a time) into Betty's bowl and added half a can of pre-made frosting (Chocolate for the Devil's Food and Vanilla for the Funfetti) and let Betty do the work...again. Once it was all in a big ball inside the wisk I removed it from the mixer and rolled the mix into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls.  I then melted about 7-8 pieces of the candy (again, chocolate melts for the Devil's Food and vanilla for the Funfetti).  Dip the lollipop sticks into the candy then place one stick in each cake ball.  Now comes the hard part. Make space in your freezer for the cake balls and stick them in there for an hour to set.  As the end of that hour approaches, melt the rest of the candy and put your toppings into bowls.  Dip the cake balls into the melted candy coating and then into the topping(s) of your choice.  I used sprinkles, coconut and peanuts.  My favorite combination was the Devil's Food cake dipped in milk chocolate rolled in coconut.  SO GOOD!  Ewan prefers the sprinkles on Funfetti. ;)  So yeah, they take forever but totally worth it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mmmm...chili! And pumpkin spice rice krispie treats!

It's been nice and cool here lately so I decided to put chili on the menu. Wouldn't you know it?  Today was a high of 75. :-/  It's still beautiful, though and there's a nice breeze.  So I made the chili anyway.  I started by browning some ground turkey.  I combined 3 cans of chili beans, two small cans of tomato sauce, one onion (diced), one green pepper (diced) and a bottle of Wal-mart brand V-8 juice into the crotch pot and let it cook on low for 3 hours.  I then left it on the warm setting for about 5 more hours and it was perfect just in time for dinner.  I made a quick pan of Marie Callendar's low fat corn bread and served the chili with shredded cheddar and oyster crackers.

And for dessert: Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats!  Now, I honestly wasn't sure about these but I thought it was worth a shot.  I pretty much followed the regular recipe for Rice Krispie treats on the box of cereal.  However, I added a few sprinkles each of ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon into the melted marshmallows.  Once they were done I used the medium sized pumpkin cookie cutter (yes we have three different size pumpkin cookie cutters) to shape them.  Ewan's exact words were "They look like circles, not pumpkins."  Whatever, kid.  I tried. ;)
We then added orange sprinkles on the base and green apple sprinkles on the tops.  They actually taste great!  Almost like they should only be for grown-ups.  Remember when your parents told you certain foods were only for grown-ups?  I kinda wish mind would've said more foods were for grown-ups only. ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, I am a slacker!

Sorry, folks.  It's a bit of a crazy time, here.  I've had quite a few shoots, Ewan's getting ready to start school today and it seems like when it rains it pours (as far as stuff breaking down).  So today is the first day of our new normal and I'm hoping to get back to blogging more regularly, too.  I've got a beef roast I need to use up so look for a currently undecided beef dish for dinner tonight. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Italian Chicken

Tonight I had to use up some chicken breasts I had thawed yesterday for our BBQ but then we didn't have as many guests as I originally thought.  I didn't want to do anything too time consuming as Feenie's been extremely fussy all day so I decided on Italian Chicken.  I dunked the chicken in Kraft Light Zesty Italian dressing, rolled it in bread crumbs and Italian seasoning and then tossed it in the frying pan in a little butter.  I am still learning how to fry chicken.  The first round ended up needing the breading scraped off.  :-/ But the chicken itself was fine.
The second batch was much better and that's what we ate.  I'll use the leftovers for chicken tortilla soup tomorrow.
I also made "smashed" potatoes using the leftover baked potatoes from yesterday's dinner.  I sliced the potatoes once long ways and three times width wise.  Dropped a pat of butter on them and a little sea salt.  I baked them at 425 for about half an hour then pulled them out and smashed them, added some seasonings and baked for another ten minutes.  We also had cooked carrots but I didn't take a picture of those.
For dessert I melted some Nestle's semi sweet chocolate chips and dipped some pretzels.  Simple and easy yet a nice little treat.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Favorites

Well, we're wrapping up summer here and I don't know about you, but here in MI it feels very much like fall!  In fact, I'm about to get the fireplace going and I LOVE IT!!! I absolutely love fall and winter and I'm more than happy to welcome the cooler seasons.

At any rate, I braved the cold winds and made us one last traditional summer meal (ok, it probably won't be our last); BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, melon trio, macaroni salad & cole slaw.  I didn't make it all as we were gone for part of the weekend, but here's what I did make:

BBQ chicken: stabbed the boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a fork a few times on each side.  Rubbed them with Famous Dave's Steak & Burger Seasoning (works on chicken, too).  Dumped some Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet Honey BBQ sauce on one side and Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce on the other.  I grilled them on low until the thermometer showed they were 180 degrees.  It was juicy (again, a pleasant surprise) and flavorful.

Baked potatoes: stabbed them a few times with a fork, brushed with butter and added a little sea salt.  Wrapped them in foil and baked them at 350 for about an hour.

The rest of the sides were pretty self explanitory or pre-made.

We also have chips & salsa and a cheeseball and reduced fat Wheat Thins sitting around as we prepare for a little Rock Band/Guitar Hero.

And yeah, that's a Christmas light shaped spreader.  It's all I have for spreading. ;)

Roasted Chicken (almost a week late)!

I'll be honest, I might have forgotten about these photos until I went to pull tonight's pictures off of the compact flash card.  So I don't actually remember what all we had but it looks like crescent rolls, stuffing, potatoes and mixed veggies?  I think.  I do remember how I made the chicken, though!  I melted some butter and brushed it onto the bird.  I then sprinkled some sage, salt, pepper & oregano onto it and covered the pan with foil.  I baked it at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I removed the foil and roasted it a bit longer till it was crispy and the thermometer showed it to be 180 degrees.  It was really juicy (which is not the norm around here) and we all enjoyed it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Days You Just Have To Go Easy

I didn't even take a picture because, frankly, I'm a little embarassed.  Tonight we had *hangs head in shame* a Banquet Homestyle Bake from a box. :-/ I had planned to do a roasted chicken with some delicious broasted potatoes and veggies but the chicken was still frozen so I had to come up with something quick and easy so yeah, we ate a processed boxed meal and I'm not proud of it.

Look for pics of my roasted chicken tomorrow...if it ever thaws. ;)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Big Breakfast and My First Ribs

Sorry this took an extra day.  It was a long (but good) weekend.

Anyway, yesterday we slept in and then I made what we refer to as "Big Big Breakfast".  Basically I make a little bit of everyone's favorites.  Yesterday was scrambled eggs (some plain, some "fancy" with green peppers, onions and some shredded tomato & basil cheddar left from our trip to the Cheese Haus in Frankenmuth, last weekend), pancakes, turkey bacon, maple flavored sausage patties, sausage links and leftover biscuits from dinner Friday night.  We had some bluberry jam also from Frankenmuth, plum preserves, syrup and butter, too.

I didn't take a lot of photos as I prepared dinner because we had some family and friends over and I was trying to be a good hostess.  At any rate, I made these huge boneless country-style ribs.  I used some rub and a LOT of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and put them in the crock pot for a few hours.  James then tossed them on the grill for about half an hour just to give them a little crisp.  Oh. My. Stars.  They turned out so much better than I had hoped.  I thought for sure they'd be tough but they were actually really juicy and sweet.  I even had a leftover for lunch today. ;)

Today's dinner was Jambalaya made by James.  I don't like shrimp so I had a wrap but everyone who ate it (my father-in-law, brother and his girlfriend and James) all loved it. Unfortunately, I don't remember what's on the menu for tomorrow and I'm too lazy to walk over to the fridge and check so...you'll just have to wait and see! ;)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Kabobs & Foil Veggies

Tonight's menu was pretty simple: Chicken kabobs and veggies cooked in foil.
I started by chopping up some green peppers, onions and tomatoes.
For the veggies I just sliced a zucchini, cubed a few potatoes, onions and green peppers, a few pats of butter (probably too many but we do splurge on butter) and put it all in some foil and let it sit on the grill which was heated to about 350 degrees for about half an hour.

 The two guys here were my seasonings for the evening.  Both were used on the kabobs and just the Lawry's was used on the potatoes.  Salt & peppered to taste at the table.

Layered the kabobs and got them ready for the grill.  Side note: I picked up this sweet kabob set at a garage sale for $3 a few years back, still new in the box. I love it!  It even folds up so it takes less space in the cabinet!

Sometimes this fella here likes to help out, especially when it involves "his" grill.  To be fair, I've actually only used it once.  Isn't he handsome?  Sorry ladies, he's taken.

Here's the food on the grill.  It smelled so good our neighbors' grandma even commented!  She asked if we were cooking onions and I said "Yes, mixed with potatoes and zucchini on the grill."  She said, "I think I'll stop and get some sliders on the way home cuz those onions smell gooo-ooood!"

Presentation is everything, folks.  Only the best paper plates and plasticware for my family!
Another aside: this Kroger brand spreadable butter (Land O'Lakes knock off) is SO GOOD!!!!

Finished veggies.

Finished kabobs.

I also tossed some Pillsbury Grands biscuits in the oven and served those with dinner, too.  It was absolutely delicious!  For dessert: leftover apple pie and vanilla bean ice cream.